7 free agent goalies Canucks could sign to back up Demko next season

Apr 28 2023, 7:37 pm

Goaltending has rarely been an issue of concern for the Vancouver Canucks in recent years.

Unfortunately, that changed last season.

Thatcher Demko, who played like one of the best goalies in the league in 2021-22, was ineffective and then injured. That was the story for most of his season.

Incumbent backup goaltender Spencer Martin was a feel-good story last season, but he crumbled behind a porous defence after being thrust into the starter’s role following Demko’s injury.

Here’s where Martin ranked among NHL netminders who had lowest “goals saved above expected per 60” in 2022-23 last season (minimum 10 games played), courtesy of MoneyPuck.com.

Spencer Martin expected goals against


In other words, he was one of the most ineffective goaltenders in the NHL, even though the defence needs to share some blame.

After Martin, veteran goalie Collin Delia was marginally better, but still posted an uninspiring .886 save percentage.

Rookie Arturs Silovs performed well in five starts, but the 22-year-old should probably spend at least another year or two in the AHL.

So, are the Canucks best served finding their backup goaltender for next season on the free agent market?

General manager Patrik Allvin told reporters last week that he doesn’t anticipate spending a lot on a backup goaltender. So, don’t expect a free agent goalie like Cam Talbot (who had a cap hit $3.6 million last season) to be a realistic target for the Canucks.

In terms of just the external, bargain bin options, here are seven netminders the Canucks could chase on the free agent market.

1. Alex Stalock

  • 2022-23 Stats: 24 GP, 9-15-2, 3.01 GAA, .908 SV%
  • 2022-23 Cap Hit: $750,000

You could argue that veteran Alex Stalock played a part in ruining the Chicago Blackhawks tank, as the team finished with the third-worst record in the NHL.

The 35-year-old had a save percentage of .908, which was above the league average of .904. Not bad considering he was playing pn a brutal team.

2. Alex Lyon

  • 2022-23 Stats: 14 GP, 9-4-2, 2.89 GAA, .912 SV%
  • 2022-23 Cap Hit: $750,000

Alex Lyon has started just 31 NHL games, but 14 of those came this season for the Florida Panthers. He also started another four playoff games for the Panthers against the Boston Bruins.

Although he originally was third on their goaltending depth chart, the 30-year-old was elevated to the starter’s role late in the season with both Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight out of the lineup.

Even though he’s likely earned a raise based on his most recent performance, the lack of an NHL track record should mean he’s still in the bargain bin territory once free agency hits.

3. Alex Nedeljkovic

  • 2022-23 Stats: 15 GP, 5-7-2, 3.53 GAA, .895 SV%
  • 2022-23 Cap Hit: $3,000,000

What a terrible time for Alex Nedeljkovic to enter his first offseason as being an unrestricted free agent.

The netminder, who was drafted one pick after Demko in 2014, lost his spot on the Detroit Red Wings altogether after a nightmare season.

However, the former Calder finalist has shown promise in the past, and might not cost much to acquire after a down season.

4. Mackenzie Blackwood

  • 2022-23 Stats: 22 GP, 10-6-2, 3.20 GAA, .893 SV%
  • 2022-23 Cap Hit: $2,800,000

Mackenzie Blackwood falls into a similar category as Nedeljkovic.

Once anointed as the New Jersey Devils starter of the future, Blackwood now isn’t even a back up on the Devils’ bench.

He’s currently a restricted free agent, but there’s a good chance that he becomes unrestricted. The Devils would have to give him a qualifying offer worth $3.3 million, which seems unlikely, if they want to retain him as a restricted free agent.

5. Keith Kinkaid

  • 2022-23 Stats: 2 GP, 1-0-0, 1.37 GAA, .950 SV%
  • 2022-23 Cap Hit: $750,000

The last three options here represent netminders who could theoretically push Spencer Martin for the backup job in training camp, much like Delia did this past season.

Keith Kinkaid had a .911 save percentage while playing for both the Bruins and Colorado Avalanche’s AHL affiliate this season. He was traded from Boston to Colorado at the deadline to boost Colorado’s goaltending depth.

6. Jonas Johansson

  • 2022-23 Stats: 3 GP, 2-0-0, 2.31 GAA, .932 SV%
  • 2022-23 Cap Hit: $750,000

Like Demko, Johansson was selected in the 2014 draft. However, he’s bounced the waiver wire with a few different organizations, before finally emerging as a reliable depth option this season.

The 6-5, 220-pound Swede won both of his starts for the Avalanche, while posting a .920 save percentage in 26 games for Colorado’s AHL affiliate.

7. Cory Schneider

  • 2022-23 Stats (AHL): 33 GP, 19-11-3, 2.94 GAA, .913 SV%
  • 2022-23 Cap Hit: $750,000

At 37 years old, former Canuck Cory Schneider is still plying his trade at the AHL level.

And despite injuries derailing his once promising career, the Massachusetts native has been a solid AHL starter for the last two seasons.

Schneider could be the perfect veteran to push Martin and help mentor Silovs at the AHL level.

Not to mention, it would be a neat story to have him back with the Canucks.

However, there’s a good chance that Schneider might retire, although he isn’t completely ruling out a return.

If re-joining the Canucks as a goalie isn’t in the cards, perhaps he might consider joining the team in the broadcast booth instead?

Trevor BeggsTrevor Beggs

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